Social Media News: June 9–22

Our bi-weekly social media news roundup features new announcements in social media and clever advertising, and tells you what it means for real estate agents focused on getting a higher ROI on their digital investment.

This week we look at Burger King hacking Google Home, Instagram sponsored posts, Google’s automated comment moderation, Publicis going all-in on AI, fighting the Facebook-Google duopoly, YouTube’s VR workshop, and Snapchat Snap Map and self-service Ad Manager. Yep, we’re covering all of that. Let’s dive in.

1. Burger King Hacks Google Home with New Ad Campaign

Burger King’s “Google Home of the Whopper” campaign deservedly won the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions in the Direct Category. The campaign consists of 15-second videos wherein a Burger King employee asks Google Home devices to describe the Whopper sandwich, because 15-seconds “is not enough time to describe all the fresh ingredients.” Any nearby Google Home assistant or Android with enabled voice search would then read out the Whopper Wikipedia entry — which, according to The Verge, Burger King had rewritten ahead of time to be much more like an ad for the burger. Within 24 hours, trolls had edited the Whopper Wiki page to use descriptors such as “cancer-causing” to describe the sandwich. The ads manage to be self-aware about the marriage of ever-shortening attention spans and super-fast advertising, while also cleverly “hacking” people’s homes from within a TV (or laptop) screen.

What This Means For Real Estate Marketing

Creating ads that jump “out” of a screen has always been a marketing goal, but its possibilities are more literal now. Burger King’s campaign is an inspiring example of a marketing strategy that leverages the home assistants that we’ve been talking about in almost every Social Media News issue for the past six months. With home assistants more commonly sitting on not just kitchen counters but in multiple rooms across the house, agents should be jumping in with similar self-reflexive humour and digital know-how to leverage this new digital frontier for brand gain.

2. Instagram Ads Get More Obviously Ad-Like

After intense scrutiny over the past few months, Instagram decided to crack down on sponsored posts and make them more obviously ads. We talked about disguised ads in the form of GIFs last week and the Millennial appeal of hidden ads a few months ago. This move on Instagram’s part follows a warning from the Federal Trade Commission in reference to rampant improperly labelled influencer posts. This will take the shape of “Paid Partnership With…” tags under usernames on sponsored posts. While the days of deception may be ending for Instagram marketers, the platform added some rosy news that the new tags make it easier to track data on the paid posts’ success. The jury is out on whether that data will show increased ROI with the new change.

What This Means For Real Estate Marketing

While we are marketers, we fundamentally believe that deceptive marketing practices always lose in the end. Real estate as an industry has been slow to Instagram, and even slower to utilize influencers to gain market traction in ads. It would be ideal to be an influencer yourself. However, if you’re not on the road to that kind of social media stardom, then invoking others’ influence is a worthwhile endeavour. The next time you sell a home to someone with a large Instagram following perhaps you get them to post about it (and you). And the good news is that now you will have access to analytics to see how the post stacks up relative to your Facebook campaigns. Of course you are well heeled in those by now, right?

3. Snapchat Now Maps Your Snaps

Location is becoming a much bigger thing on Snapchat these days. Snapchat just introduced a new feature that lets you share your location, which then gets added to a Snap Map. Snap Map builds on the app’s recent Location Stories feature to let users share their location and what they’re doing so that, theoretically, friends can meet up with them and join the fun (and broadcast the fun in a group story, obviously).

What This Means for Real Estate Marketing

This feature could be used for real estate in the form of a team’s open-house tour or an introduction to a neighbourhood. Snap Map gives users an alternative way to discover Story content beyond the well-worn Stories feed (and the powerful but buried Story Search feature). Users can submit Snapchat Story posts to Our Story in order to be eligible to have their content appear to non-friends for 24 hours. If Snap Map’s reach is only friends, then its utility is limited for real estate agents and marketers. However, the feature holds promise for discovery.

4. Publicis Group Stops to Go All-In on Artifical Intelligence

Multinational advertising and public relations behemoth Publicis Group is taking a gap year. Their equivalent of “finding themselves” by backpacking through Southeast Asia, however, is to forgo awards and promotional activities in favour of investing all of their time and resources in a new AI-powered professional assistant platform named Marcel (after the company’s founder). The idea is to become a model for digital collaboration and interaction.

What This Means For Real Estate Marketing

Major franchise brands like RE/MAX or brokerages should take note of this move. Taking AI on as a business strategy and thus fundamentally shifting operations from the ground up means a massive structural overhaul, but it also means leading the pack on what will inevitably inform the future of real estate. Who will be the first franchise brand to take the lead, or will it be an independent?

5. Publishers Team Up to Fight the Facebook-Google Duopoly

The Google-Facebook duopoly is estimated to capture 85% of new digital advertising and 60% of digital spending in the U.S. this year. This is bad news for basically every publisher other than the two behemoths. The result is that publishers who previously competed against one another are being forced to become unlikely bedfellows in order to attempt to fight the duopoly. The prominence (or, omnipresence) of Facebook and Google is for a slew of reasons — one being that their appeal to marketers is rooted in unmatched reach, data access, and analytics. That other large companies are being forced to step up their game in terms of data analytics is great news for marketers. They are literally fighting to be more appealing to (and better for) marketers — the bar keeps getting raised.

What This Means For Real Estate Marketing

The more data companies collect, the more precise targeting and analytics become, the better real estate marketers are able to market listings and themselves. A little capitalist competition is good sometimes. As of right now, agents, teams, brokerages and franchises are reliant on the two big guns for ad placement. However, just as publishers are teaming up against the duopoly, will we be seeing RE/MAX, Keller Williams and Zillow consolidate their data to lessen their dependence on Facebook and Google? Unfortunately, real estate might not be as organized as the publishing industry.

6. YouTube Wants to Help Creators Hone Virtual Reality

YouTube wants more VR content, and to that end has just announced the Los Angeles VR Creator Lab. It’s a 3-day program where top brands and creators can learn how to create excellent VR content. In order to participate, creators should have already made at least two 360-degree videos, have at least 10,000 subscribers, be over 18, and go through an orientation. Participants receive all of the necessary VR paraphernalia and resources, and will also get access to talks by Google about making VR videos. Other VR studios exist globally (see, for example: Toronto’s OccupiedVR, Paris’ VR Studio, and Sydney’s Start VR), but YouTube’s promises a certain level of sophistication and an educational component that promises to be unique.

What This Means For Real Estate Marketing

As Virtual Reality becomes both more accessible and more prominent, real estate marketers and agents alike need to keep up. Ambitious agents are already working on ways to integrate VR into their real estate practice — VR home tours, VR listings, VR general branding videos, to name a few. If you’ve already embraced YouTube as part of your marketing strategy, perhaps you should be buying that plane ticket. If not, now might be the time to think seriously about YouTube.

7. Alphabet Deploys Bots to Handle Comment Moderation

Comment sections can be pretty dark places sometimes. They’re not called trolls because they live out in the sun. Unfortunately, there are only so many humans available in the world to help moderate comments. Bots can help. The New York Times (like everyone else) wants to improve and automate its comment moderation. Until recently, 14 human moderators were tasked with approving around 12,000 reader comments every day. The news giant teamed up with conglomerate Alphabet Inc. to create an automated comment moderator called, naturally, Moderator. Moderator works in a similar way to Google Perspective — a technology that uses machine learning to decide which comments are “acceptable” and which are “toxic”.

What This Means For Real Estate Marketing

The move towards automation in everything from bots to emails to comment sections is not something agents should eschew. While we doubt you have an active enough comment section on your blog to require automation, we suggest taking advantage of automation’s many benefits (and growing sophistication) in your referral marketing program, and/or with your own real estate chatbot. And it won’t be long til this kind of moderation tool is available as a subscription service, removing that one last obstacle to agents’ insecurity about posting online.

8. Snapchat Introduces Self-Service Model

Following a disappointing First Earnings Report, Snapchat made the next announcement to up its ad game. The company just made a new self-service feature called Ad Manager available. This feature has been available via Facebook for what feels like forever, but Snapchat didn’t get its own self-service model until recently. The feature lets marketers buy, optimize and manage campaign analytics with no payment minimum (or via auction with market prices). Marketers also get access to all of Snapchat’s ad formats and targeting capabilities, and can get ads reviewed by Snap for quality. Snap’s mobile dashboard also means users can track campaigns from anywhere. In addition to Ad Manager, Snap also introduced other features such as Snap Publisher (a tool to create, edit and A/B test high quality vertical video) and Certified Partners (giving select ad partners extra training).

What This Means For Real Estate Marketing

Now that Snap is working to make Snapchat a competitive ad platform, marketers should consider the app’s potential as a space to market their brand. Should agents and brokerages definitely start investing in Snapchat as a marketing platform? Perhaps not, because the ROI hasn’t yet proven to be worth it relative to other options out there. But these latest moves make the app worth watching.

Did we miss something you’d like to hear our take on? Got a great news tip? Get in touch here.

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